Review by Dan Skip Allen
In general, martial arts and Japanese films tend to go in a similar direction most of the time. They are either very specific to the culture of Japan and tend to honor them or very campy and totally off the map entirely. The Cherry Bushido tries to balance both versions of this genre, almost to the level of unbelievability. There are two different films within this one film, one of which works and the other doesn't.
Shizuka (Fumika Shimizu) is a young college-age woman. She believes in her country and women's rights but doesn't know how to use her thoughts. When the neighboring country of Sedorrah starts firing off ICBM missiles over Japan as warning shots of a possible invasion, she tries to make her voice heard. She starts writing for a local newspaper. A leader of her people notices her passion and recruits her into a group he has formed called The Association for Japan's Future. It turns out she is the chosen one and is a Sacred Warrior, and her path is meant to fight The Great Demon of Hades.
This film has multiple messages it is trying to get across on screen. One of them is how the media is biased and whoever owes the network tends to get their message across. The second message is that this fictional country of Sedorrah is North Korea, and their nuclear proliferation is a big topic in the Far East. This film hammers these two topics home until it goes off the rails.
The whole fantasy aspect of the film is the weakest part of the film. How the filmmaker uses the topic of a woman savior is great, except how they go about it. Her mission and story needed to be more believable. The group of so-called Sacred Warriors levitate out of their bodies to fight this demon character. It's just a crazy concept.
One of the things I didn't like about the film was the cast. I'm not that familiar with these actors, but some were in roles that didn't seem realistic to me. Like the group leader seemed a little young and not very believable in this role. Most of the cast was underwhelming, including the rest of the Sacred Warriors. The news media as well seemed very underaged for those types of jobs. I would have liked to see more established actors in some of these roles.
This film tried to do something with the story that meant something for the Far East and women in general. It falls very short of what the filmmakers were trying to go for. The acting by most wasn't that good, with many people miscast. The film looked good, and the filmmaking style was fine except for the subpar visual effects. The mixtures of these two types of martial arts films crammed into one didn't work for me.
The Cherry Bushido hits theaters on March 11.